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When they finally see it!

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#1 Footbag

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Posted 16 August 2013 - 11:31 AM

It always amuses me, but I'll tell you my story from the Persieds. I was observing the persieds with my cousins, but brought my binoculars.

I told them about Andromeda, and told them we could see it with the binoculars. So I handed the binos to my young cousin. He looked through them, and I tried to make sure he was looking in the correct place. After about 30s, he said "oh yeah I see it." I've heard it before and suspected he didn't see it. His father then asked for the binos and I pointed him in the right direction. After 30 or so seconds, I got the same "Oh yeah, I see it."

Then his wife took the binoculars and I walked behind her and pointed the binoculars at exactly the right spot. As soon as I hit the spot, "Woooooow!" she said. Both my cousin and his father quickly said, "I don't think I saw it." I knew that, I've heard it before.

I gave them each a turn and made sure they were looking in the right spot. I showed them the stars to hop from, and stood behind them pointing the binoculars. I got two huge Wow's.

It always amuses me. It doesn't matter whether they are 5 or 50, you can always tell when they see it and when they don't.

#2 Jim T

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Posted 18 August 2013 - 10:19 PM

So true!

#3 StarStuff1

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Posted 22 August 2013 - 04:41 PM

Sounds like you need a GLP to make sure they are looking at the right spot. Or a binocular mount.

I do a fair amount of outreach and often set up a small seond scope on an undriven mount. I'll set the low power wide field scope on a target like the Pleiades or the Beehive. Almost always someone will move the scope or simply the Earth's rotation will take the intended target out of view. People still "ooh" and "ahhh". Then someone will say "I don't see anything". Time to re-center the target.

#4 Skylook123

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Posted 23 August 2013 - 02:00 AM

One other associated fact with telescope viewing and seeing the eye candy is focus. During my nightly introductions in the theater at the Grand Canyon Star Party, I tell the audience that the telescope is like a monocle, and every person has their own prescription so if three people in front of them go Oh Wow, and they can only see at best a blur, ask the astronomer how to adjust the focus. I try to often say the same thing to the lines at my scope during my outreaches. One night while I was walking around the setup area, I passed three scopes - one was on M13, one on Saturn, and the third on The Sombrero. I heard a visitor comment, "Three telescopes all pointing to the same blurry image." I did my monocle comment, and later the same visitor came by my scope. He said, "Thanks for the advice; I didn't know we could ask about focus." His wife said, "His astigmatism doesn't allow him to wear contacts. He needs glasses but won't wear them."

#5 skyguy88

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Posted 23 August 2013 - 03:31 PM

Hi Jim,

Years ago, before I got serious about astronomy, I looked at Saturn via a dob ep at a public event. Out of focus for me. I asked if I could focus and got a look like, "are you crazy"?

Just one more reason for video in public programs. Eliminating individual "how to look" coaching lets you engage visitors on the object on the screen, and it's in focus for everyone.

Bill

#6 Skylook123

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Posted 24 August 2013 - 09:29 AM

Hi Bill,

Other than the Grand Canyon Star Party for eight consecutive nights each year, Catalina State Park for three single nights each year, and the occasional special event at the Univ. of Ariz. Mall or Biosphere 2, where I get hundreds of visitors at my setup, my usual half dozen outreach events each month generally run no more than 75 or so visitors and four or five telescopes we set up, usually at schools or libraries. So, at most, I deal with five to ten people at a time and we are done in an hour and a half or so. Eyeballs on the eyepiece, for the most part, is then a much more personal involvement with each visitor. And the investment in time with each visitor is, for me, a rewarding experience and they seem to feel more immersed in the experience. And the astronomer doing the demonstration HAS to understand that it is an individual experience; focusing is a personal requirement and I can't understand why anyone trying to show the night sky environment would not understand the need to verify each visitor's ability to see what there is to see in the best possible condition for that visitor. However, the video really comes into its own at the named venues above.

Different horses for different courses. In a practical sense, we often only get about 15 minutes or so to set up, and getting the video configuration fine tuned for the specific occurrence is one more hassle if the crowd is so minimal.

But, if visually or physically challenged visitors are participating, or the audience will exceed 25 or 30 at a time, then the video is a tremendous asset. Thus, I sent my order in last night to upgrade from the Mallincam Junior to the Hyper Plus. I am NOT an imager for personal use; strictly eyepiece only. I just don't get the same emotional feeling with the video (other than the elation when it works) as I do with the eyepiece. But for larger groups, and the very young and/or challenged visitors, live video is the only way to go. YMMV.

#7 amicus sidera

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Posted 04 September 2013 - 09:47 AM

Hi Jim,

Years ago, before I got serious about astronomy, I looked at Saturn via a dob ep at a public event. Out of focus for me. I asked if I could focus and got a look like, "are you crazy"?

Just one more reason for video in public programs. Eliminating individual "how to look" coaching lets you engage visitors on the object on the screen, and it's in focus for everyone.

Bill


I disagree with this assessment. Reducing the heavens to mere pixels on a screen will rip the heart out of outreach. Presenting actual objects, not a re-presentation of them, is paramount; without that immediacy and realization by the public that what they are seeing is the real thing, and not another image that they could view on any of the countless screens which they already own, we might as well pack up and go home.

Video has its place, but its use in outreach must be kept to a minimum if we are to keep engendering those "Oh, wow!" moments that mean so much to the public. Instructing folks regarding focusing one's instrument is a small price to pay for such a tangible benefit.

Fred

#8 csrlice12

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Posted 04 September 2013 - 10:48 AM

AP has its place in outreach...if nothing else to discuss why you can't take Hubble like pics with a $60 scope and a cell phone...AP is just another aspect of the hobby.

#9 Footbag

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Posted 04 September 2013 - 03:20 PM

Hi Jim,

Years ago, before I got serious about astronomy, I looked at Saturn via a dob ep at a public event. Out of focus for me. I asked if I could focus and got a look like, "are you crazy"?

Just one more reason for video in public programs. Eliminating individual "how to look" coaching lets you engage visitors on the object on the screen, and it's in focus for everyone.

Bill


I disagree with this assessment. Reducing the heavens to mere pixels on a screen will rip the heart out of outreach. Presenting actual objects, not a re-presentation of them, is paramount; without that immediacy and realization by the public that what they are seeing is the real thing, and not another image that they could view on any of the countless screens which they already own, we might as well pack up and go home.

Video has its place, but its use in outreach must be kept to a minimum if we are to keep engendering those "Oh, wow!" moments that mean so much to the public. Instructing folks regarding focusing one's instrument is a small price to pay for such a tangible benefit.

Fred


Personally, I think the people who would be disappointed with video assisted astronomy are the nostalgic presenters. As someone who is relatively new to the hobby, I actually prefer seeing it on a screen.

#10 TechPan6415

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Posted 04 September 2013 - 06:06 PM

Hi Jim,

Years ago, before I got serious about astronomy, I looked at Saturn via a dob ep at a public event. Out of focus for me. I asked if I could focus and got a look like, "are you crazy"?

Just one more reason for video in public programs. Eliminating individual "how to look" coaching lets you engage visitors on the object on the screen, and it's in focus for everyone.

Bill


I disagree with this assessment. Reducing the heavens to mere pixels on a screen will rip the heart out of outreach. Presenting actual objects, not a re-presentation of them, is paramount; without that immediacy and realization by the public that what they are seeing is the real thing, and not another image that they could view on any of the countless screens which they already own, we might as well pack up and go home.

Video has its place, but its use in outreach must be kept to a minimum if we are to keep engendering those "Oh, wow!" moments that mean so much to the public. Instructing folks regarding focusing one's instrument is a small price to pay for such a tangible benefit.


When we did our outreach in late June of this year, I had my 16" on M13 which was nearly at the zenith, had a line of about 15-30 people all night.

Another gentleman had his 12" trained on the same object via the screen method. A number of people who had seen it on the screen came over and saw the object through my scope with a 14mm 100 degree EP as the night died down, one was a kid...

Each one of those people who looked at M13 a second time through my scope after seeing the digi version were totally blown away by seeing it in real life. One lady who looked through the EP let out an audible gasp said it was the most amazing thing she had seen all night and the 12 year old kid said he did not like the "You Tube" version because he felt like he could see that anytime from his ipad and that my scope "Rocked".

The most amazing thing about astronomy in the field with telescopes *is* the tactile experience, anything else is just a facsimile and I tend to agree with the 12 year old, why bother, just go home and look at Hubble photos on the web...

In terms of outreach, I am going to fight this digital garbage in person when ever I can, I think it is a cop out and is total BS. I am going to create a sign to put out near my scope for star parties not unlike the ones that artists use at craft fairs: "Real Telescope Views, Not Photoshopped".

#11 Jim T

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Posted 04 September 2013 - 07:15 PM

Tech Pan

I appreciate your post, I really do. However, viva la difference! If there are several scopes around, a video view is worthy of comparison. I especially note the focus issue, as those with visual acuity issues can usually still see SOMETHING on the video screen (especially the very young and the elderly). All that said, I'd rather show the eyepiece view - any night.

#12 Doug Reilly

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Posted 05 September 2013 - 09:45 AM

I'd be willing to utilize a screen for certain situations, particularly those of access as pointed out above. But I'd be sure to point out the difference of seeing actual photons that have travelled all that time and distance versus a simulation of them. There is a danger to simulation, and part of that is what happens when people are happy to let someone else do the looking and representing and interpreting instead of looking for themselves.

It's a rich topic and worthy of discussion. I feel like humanity is at an important moment in how we understand the real, and how we perceive it. I I've had students at my outreach evenings tell me that that telescope was obsolete because they could just look up an object on their iphone, including a far more detailed image than they could ever get through my modest telescope. Again, there's a serious problem with people not understanding the difference between representation and observation, and the distinct value of each.

#13 Footbag

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Posted 05 September 2013 - 12:18 PM

My son is 3 years old. He cannot look through the eyepiece and I'm not sure I'd want to let him try. But when I'm doing imaging, he loves looking at the computer screen and watching the images come in. He oohs and aahs over the images.

The point of my original post was that some people have difficulty seeing objects. This does fix that problem. If they ask, I will let them see it through the eyepiece. But it won't have the same amount of detail as the image.

I'm not saying it's better, but it does solve a lot of the problems you have with EP newbies.

#14 amicus sidera

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Posted 05 September 2013 - 04:22 PM

I'd be willing to utilize a screen for certain situations, particularly those of access as pointed out above. But I'd be sure to point out the difference of seeing actual photons that have travelled all that time and distance versus a simulation of them. There is a danger to simulation, and part of that is what happens when people are happy to let someone else do the looking and representing and interpreting instead of looking for themselves.

It's a rich topic and worthy of discussion. I feel like humanity is at an important moment in how we understand the real, and how we perceive it. I I've had students at my outreach evenings tell me that that telescope was obsolete because they could just look up an object on their iphone, including a far more detailed image than they could ever get through my modest telescope. Again, there's a serious problem with people not understanding the difference between representation and observation, and the distinct value of each.


A very discerning observation, yours. Humanity is indeed at a crossroads in regards to perception: illusion versus reality, deception versus truth. For the sake of future generations, let us hope that choices based upon critical observation become normative.

Fred

P.s. Btw Doug, is that a Yashica Mat in your avatar?

#15 skyguy88

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Posted 05 September 2013 - 11:41 PM

OK, what am I missing here?

Astronomy is an observational science. Virtually all astronomical research is based on photographic observation because our eyes and physics limit visual observing.

For decades little has changed in what we can present to the public if we limit ourselves to visual tools.

For decades the amateur community has bemoaned the lack of public interest in our science.

In recent years new technology has allowed us to observe much more deeply with essentially live cameras, seeing deeper and seeing color. Using this technology in public programs encourages conversation and engagement.

Some folks think that we shouldn't make this technology available to the public.

Makes no sense to me.

Bill

#16 Skylook123

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Posted 06 September 2013 - 08:20 AM

Bill, as much as I am committed to the use of my video setup were possible and appropriate, to me, and maybe me only, video astronomy is to observing at the eyepiece as Forrest Gump is to a documentary. And since I split time between the two methodologies, the commentary at the eyepiece and at the monitor seem to confirm this for most of my crowds. IF they can manage the access to the eyepiece and the visual processing required.

The technology MUST be made available to the public; it's how the individual visitor perceives the experience that is different between the methodologies. I had a person tell me at GCSP on the way out as he stopped by my Saturn view on the monitor tell me that looking through the other scopes' eyepieces was seeing Saturn, and then my video was more watching Saturn. Different folks do have different reactions!






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